Should European Chambers of Commerce still be in business in Myanmar?

Almost all European chambers of commerce remain active in Myanmar nearly two years on from a military coup that ousted a democratically-elected government and sparked a civil

war. The ongoing crisis in Myanmar post-coup, in which nearly 2,700 people have been killed and more than a million displaced, raises ethical concerns for international

business. Many of the largest European firms have already pulled out of the Southeast-Asian country. The EU has already imposed five rounds of sanctions on junta officials

and their aligned business. But Brussels, including the chambers of commerce, refuses to end Myanmar's trade privileges because, it says, doing so would primarily impact

vulnerable communities and workers, not the military. "Unquestionably, the shutdown of businesses and factories would primarily affect the civil society and increase the

poverty of the Myanmar people, who are already suffering under the current political situation," Martin Krummeck, CEO of the German Myanmar Business Chamber, told DW. In

January 2022, the EuroCham Myanmar Garment Advocacy Group argued in a report that if European companies withdrew from the country, factories could be bought by investors from

countries where there may be less respect for workers' rights. According to the World Bank's latest report in July, poverty rates have spiked to 40% — the highest rate in

15 years. Krummeck stated that his organization has not engaged with the "current acting government" in Myanmar, meaning the junta. The business bodies who responded to DW

all said they have a strict policy of not admitting companies with links to the military.